TO help revitalize Philippine cinema, Hollywood giant Warner Brothers Pictures has officially sealed its partnership with rising Filipino movie company Mentorque Productions to locally distribute horror film Mallari, the latter’s entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2023.
To be shown nationwide starting December 25, this scary movie is inspired by the true story of Fr. Severino Mallari, the first reported serial killer in the country. Directed by Derick Cabrido and written by Enrico Santos, this film is topbilled by award-winning actor Piolo Pascual who plays three characters across three different timelines. The film boasts of extensive special effects and elements of horror and mystery.
“Mallari is the first mainstream film to be distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures in the Philippines. May this partnership be a gateway to more collaborations and give more opportunities for this industry,” Mentorque Productions president John Bryan Diamante said during their contract signing and press briefing at the Okada Manila in Parañaque City on November 25.
Such pioneering local foray of Warner Brothers after its last attempt for a limited release of indie film Mga Munting Tinig in 2003 was “serendipitous,” per distribution director Rico Gonzales. A week after their regional and head offices in Burbank greenlighted their entry into strategic ventures here, Santos phoned him to ask if they are open to distribute a local movie.
For Diamante, it was not an easy deal. Apart from meeting its international standard of filming, which amounted to a total of P80 million, they also had to undergo rigorous legalities. He said: “I think we were able to fulfill all of that.”
This was confirmed by Gonzales, who gave a thumb-up after viewing Mallari. He noted that “this is a different horror movie. Warner Brothers will not put our logo or stamp of approval of a movie that’s not worth it. This is definitely worth our brand.”
Under the agreement, the global film outfit is tasked for the theatrical distribution of Mallari in the Philippines, which is timely to its centennial celebration. “We would like to be able to give back to the moviegoing audience for all the support you have given to us. Since this is a very historic moment for us, the first Filipino picture [that we’ll release] is happening on the 100th anniversary of Warner Brothers Pictures,” Gonzales said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to pitch this movie to our colleagues at least for the Asian region and, eventually, some other territories where Warner Brothers is releasing movies.”
Diamante applauded such support for quality local films with the tie-up as happening “because the stars have aligned.” For him, local cinema has a rich and diverse history, known for its unique storytelling style, and has made significant contributions to both regional and global cinemas.
“Despite facing challenges such as our ability to compete with international films and the rise of digital platforms, the Philippine film industry remains resilient and vibrant,” he said. “Mentorque Productions promises to continue to be a concept-driven film production. We wish to contribute to our rich and diverse cinematic landscape that continues to captivate audiences, both locally and internationally.”
Pressed on their future undertakings, he said of their openness for a coproduction of a Filipino film with Warner Brothers in the near future.
“Actually, our dream goal is to have an international collaboration or coproduction. Partnering with Warner Brothers is not just because we want to partner, but it’s also to learn from the company and broaden our audience again,” Diamante stressed.